Posted by News Express | 6 April 2018 | 1,291 times
A prominent civil society group, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), has warned that unless adequate legislative and civil society checks and balances are put in place to monitor the disbursement, procurements and deployment of the arms to be bought with the newly approved $1 billion security fund to battle insurgency, the entire cash or part of it may be stolen by Defence Ministry officials.
HURIWA, which condemned the failure of President Muhammadu Buhari to follow constitutional due process by obtaining the legislative appropriation of such huge fund, also called the attention of government and the National Assembly to the subsisting matter of procurement corruption in the Federal Ministry of Defence regarding the use of the United Nations Peacekeeping Contractual Fund. The rights group stated that “till now there has not been any determination of the circumstances surrounding that heist of huge foreign denominated fund allegedly stolen by the Defence Ministry.”
HURIWA in a statement on Thursday by the National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, and National Media Affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf, flayed “the silence of the hierarchies of the two chambers of the National Assembly to defend the integrity, honour, powers and constitutional mandates of the central legislature by conceding to the Executive arm of government the power of appropriation which traditionally belongs to the Legislative arm of government in line with section 88 of the Constitution.”
HURIWA tasked the National Assembly and all credible civil society organisations to keep close eyes to the distribution of the $1 billion security fund “arbitrarily released without legislative approval by the President.”
The group recalled that “contrary to well-known convention and extant constitutionally guaranteed legislative role and power of Appropriation, President Muhammadu Buhari proceeded to approve the release of $1bn for the purchase of security equipment to fight Boko Haram and maintain the peace of the country, newsmen report.”
HURIWA recalled that whilst fielding questions from journalists after the indoor security meeting with all security chiefs and President Buhari, Defence Minister Mansur Dan-Ali said: “I can inform you that of recent, our leader, President Muhammadu Buhari, gave approval for the purchase of more equipment for the military, worth $1 billion.”
The group further recalled that the Defence Minister stated: “This is a normal meeting of security agencies in the country. As usual, we discussed the current activities that affected most of the states in the federation like Taraba, Zamfara and other states. We have operationalised a division in Sokoto, there will be a brigade in Katsina and another brigade in Zamfara that will take care of security situation in that area. The strength of security personnel has increased, including the Air Force additional quick response group, they have added enough manpower in that area.”
HURIWA said the Ministry of Defence “is one of the most reckless and lawlessly administered institutions of government because of its peculiar notoriety of lack of respect to the provisions of the Procurement Act which is a law of the Federation of Nigeria just as the Rights group stated that the Defence Ministry remains a terrible cesspool of corruption and wondered how such officials who operate a completely opaque accounting and procurement systems inherently lacking in accountability and transparency have now been charged with the onerous task of spending one of the biggest security funds ever amassed by the Federal Republic of Nigeria at a time in the last 54 years or so.”
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